Wednesday, September 10, 2014

A Collective Statement from NFL Domestic Abusers

Women have certainly come a long way over the past five decades, moving from being largely resigned to a life of domesticity or menial work to having opportunities in the world of work, sports and politics. It was actually 50 years after black men were given the right to vote than women achieved that end in America, but the second wave of feminism has certainly taken us a lot farther along the path to gender parity. Women now outnumber men in the workforce, outperform boys and men by almost every measure in education (except participation in the most lucrative majors of math, science, engineering and technology), have a real shot at winning the Presidency in two years and are slowly moving up the corporate ladder. And yet we still live in a world that is dominated by patriarchy at the highest levels. The United States was tied for 86th in female representation in the legislature in 2013 (18.2%), the worst by far among any advanced industrialized country in the world, has never had a female executive, only counts 24 female CEOs among Fortune 500 companies (4.8 percent) and is ranked 16th overall by the World Economic Forum in Gender Equality. The media and world of advertising are still dominated by white males as well, and it shows. The “male gaze” Laura Mulvey wrote about in 1974, which involves the objectification of female bodies for male pleasure and narratives that always center on heterosexual men, continues to dominate popular culture even as more empowering roles pop up with increased frequency.

Most troubling may be the continued violence women suffer at the hands of men in this country. Looking at the numbers, 51.9 percent of women claim they have suffered physical violence in their lifetime (versus 25 percent in Sweden), almost a quarter at the hands of an intimate partner (in fact 7 of 10 assaults are perpetrated by one), one in 13 murder victims are killed by their husband or boyfriend, 10 percent of women have a head or spinal cord injury as a result of a physical assault, most assault victims don’t seek medical care (less than 40 percent for assault and/or rape) and 18.3 percent of women claim they have been raped (with a sense this number is underreported). Making matters worse is the way our culture handled violence against women, of a sexual or nonsexual nature. Ray Rice is just the latest example in a long line of professional athletes who have assaulted, raped or murdered women that stretches from Mike Tyson to Floyd Mayweather. While Rice has finally been condemned, how many other athletes, like Florida State’s Jameis Winston, seemingly get a pass?

In the spirit of supporting women across the country and globe, I thought I would write a fictitious speech from the collective gang of NFL abusers upon winning the big game on Sunday.

“I’d first like to thank God for allowing me to win this weekend. I know there are millions of people starving across the globe, violence against children and women, girls who are not allowed to go to school, terrorism, AIDS, ridiculous inequality, and natural and unnatural disasters every day, but I’m glad He took some time off to chose me and my teammates over the clearly undeserving opponents we played today. I’d like to thank him for getting me that latest contract that will leave me with enough money for the rest of my life, as long as I don’t get injured or blow it, particularly since the NFL seems to have little interest in ensuring I act responsibly during or after my career. Sure I might not be able to get out of bed in ten years, after the beating my body has taken, but what a bed it will be! It is also true I might end up killing myself or someone else because of the brain damage I suffered taking so many hits, but at least I was rooted for on Sundays and made my owners boatloads full of cash.

Speaking of those owners, I’d like to thank them, the NFL, my team and the media for largely condoning the mistakes I’ve made in the past and, hopefully, the ones I’ll make in the future, as long as there is not a pesky video camera around to capture my “error in judgment.” I’d like to thank the league, my coach and Roger Goodall, in particular, for criticizing my behavior and then allowing me to play on Sunday anyway as the courts figure out if I’m guilty – even letting me play on a winning Super Bowl team a couple of years ago. I understand that I have been blessed with incredible talent and want to thank the doctors who give me the drugs to allow that talent to grow and flourish, even if it does make me a little more aggressive and violent. I know I am a role model to kids, but all that really matters is that I help the team win, right? Women should be respected, sure, unless they piss me off. Then I am within my rights to beat and abuse them until they understand who rules the house. So thank you God, thank you coach and thank you to the NFL for choosing money and greed over women, over the kids watching and over any sense of moral righteousness. I appreciate your continued support and will do my best to continue to represent the league with dignity and faith."

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